Please say hello to Tali Spencer and
Thanks for allowing me to visit and talk about my new release, Victory Portrait. My stories are always, on one level or another—all right, on every level—about love. Sometimes that love is romantic and often sexual, as in this book. Other times the love is between enemies who realize the fullness of their emotions only too late, or a character will love his or her people or their world, or all of humanity for that matter. Love can embrace all of the universe or it can winnow down to something as tiny as the kernel of one’s own self. Ultimately that love is a creative force, even if what it creates is destruction.
As I wrote Victory Portrait, the story kept spinning out different takes on love.
On the day they first meet, Darius Arrento and his love interest, Peta Kordeun, feel an immediate attraction to each other. Darius is attracted sexually, to Peta’s great beauty. Peta, on the other hand, has worshipped Darius from afar for years. Though drawn together for different reasons, the fire burns hot for both men.
Darius comes to find that Peta is more than a beauty: he’s a bright, resilient young man whose spirit fills a hollow in Darius’ war-weary soul. And Peta discovers that Darius is flawed. Human. Human enough to inspire something more than infatuation.
Other loves crop up at every juncture. Darius also loves Gaspar, his emperor, both as ruler and friend. They have a past and both believe in the same future. Darius is a soldier and he loves his native country. He loves his army, the loyal soldiers of which have followed him through hell.
Peta, too, grapples with love. He feels love for his family, even though his father and at least one of his brothers at one point attempted to kill him. Peta even begins to love Uttor and his new way of life. He left behind a country and culture where homosexuality was forbidden, punishable by death—and he is now captive in a country where unions between men are accepted and he is free to be himself, fully himself, once he finds out what that is.
I hope readers enjoy the story of a grumpy general and the bright-spirited slave who captures his heart—and also how some of these other loves create both obstacles to their happiness and also the means to surmount them.
Imperial captive and former Sebboyan prince Peta Kordeun has one great wish: to meet Darius Arrento, conqueror of his country and a man he has idolized since childhood. That wish comes true the day the Uttoran emperor assigns Peta to assist the artist who will be painting the great general’s official portrait.
General Darius Arrento would rather take a crossbow bolt through his flesh than sit for a portrait, until his friend the emperor forces his hand. The notorious artist, Brazzi, uses semen and other sexual fluids to bind his colors—and Arrento is captivated by the artist’s pretty helper. Before long he is driven to possess the gorgeous young man who draws battle maps and whose naïve charm has won more hearts in Uttor than Arrento has won battles.
When Arrento learns that Peta, the slave he covets and wants for his own, is one of the despised Kordeun princes, he storms from Uttor toward a far corner of the empire—where he quickly finds himself embroiled in a plot to tear Uttor’s empire apart. His emotions and loyalties frayed, the great Arrento is in the battle of his life…and Peta may hold the key to his survival.
“You want me to assist the painter. Only that?” Peta asked.
“Yes. I just want you to understand you will be naked and…Brazzi will want you to be sexually aroused.”
“It’s what Brazzi does. Not for himself—not unless you’re a woman—but for his method. He was tried three years ago on charges of obscenity because he uses…sexual fluids for mixing his paint. He truly is a genius. His colors are astonishing.”
“And you want Arrento to see me like that? Naked and…being used?”
“No.” Gaspar was being firm. “I want a portrait of my general. And I happen to think that the sight of you will keep his ass firmly planted for whatever sittings the painter requires. You see, Darius has one weakness—only one. He cannot resist a thing of beauty—and you, my pretty slave, are the most breathtaking young man I have ever had the privilege to look upon.”
Peta flushed. Gaspar wasn’t smiling. The man was serious.
Could he do it? Did he want to do it? Peta knew he was pretty. His looks had blessed and cursed him all his life. His beauty had attracted Kesme as a fellow cadet and was what Kesme had praised that last night when they’d made love...and Peta’s face was what Lukacz, his own father, had sought to destroy, thinking that doing so would release him from predation and unnatural desires. And now Gaspar, too, wanted only one thing…
“Just sit there and look pretty,” he said, heart sinking as he grasped what Gaspar was asking him to do.
“Only if you’re willing. I’m not completely oblivious to what this sort of service might entail. It could be rather…awkward. On the other hand, it might not be for long. Darius can be stubborn. It’s possible he won’t show up.”
And just as possible that he would.
Peta wanted to say no but he could not get his mouth to form the word. He might never get another chance to see Arrento, perhaps hear his voice. Be in the same room with him.
He’d be silent…naked…terribly exposed even in his utter worship.
But he would at least be able to say he had seen the great man.
“I’ll do it,” he said.
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About the author:
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.
Thanks to a restless father, she grew up as a bit of a nomad and still loves to travel whenever she can. Her longest stint in one place was Milwaukee where she went to college, enjoyed a series of interesting careers, and raised three surprisingly well-adjusted sons. She later married her true love and put down new roots in Philadelphia, where she lives in an ongoing Italian American family sitcom. At least she’s learned how make good pasta. When not writing, Tali reads everything from sweet goofy romances to medical research, manages her fantasy football team—go Gekkos!—and takes long walks with her loving, if slightly neurotic, poodle.
Tali’s other books include the three preceding Uttor books: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, and Adored, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds, are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often posts free stories and excerpts on her blog.
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